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artist-in-residence: sarah bahbah

art
photo by sarah bahbah

the photographer who captures magical moments at music festivals.

There are live concerts by your favorite bands, and then there are live experiences with them. If you are a live music lover like me, you know there are moments that exist during shows that you wish you could bottle up and take home forever. Usually trying to snap your own Instagram just doesn’t cut it, or going up to a couple who are making out and taking their photo might seem just a little too terrifying. So, instead, the photo lives on your iPhone forever, until it’s too old for a #latergram.

However, Australian photographer Sarah Bahbah is one of those artists who finds these moments, is fearless in capturing them exactly as they are, and then recreates them exactly as she saw them with handmade, one-of-a-kind filters that bring the viewer straight into the scene that they might not have even experienced in real life.

I had the chance to chat with Sarah about traveling on tour with bands, what she looks for in a photo, and how living in the now has changed her life.

How did you first get into photography?
My interest first started in high school, but it really grew at my first year in uni, where I was into fashion photography but it wasn’t really my thing. So I emailed this promoter at a festival a week before and told her I really wanted to capture music and asked her to give me a chance. And she let me. I just had a regular photo pass, but I started to sneak backstage. I was obsessed with Angus & Julia Stone at the time and I was getting photos of them on the side stage. Angus just came up to me and started spinning me around on stage. I was like “I love festivals.” “I’m going to do them forever now.” And I haven’t stopped since. It was that experience of being able to engage with the artist and capture them in their moment.

I first discovered your photos through the album you created of Rufus at Southbound, and I was blown away. That filter is so cool. How did you decide on that?
So, basically, I’ve been doing that kind of style in my photos since I started and it was before Instagram had even started. At first it was organic, so I was creating it with cellophane and burning it so there would be a bit of edge to the photos. But then I decided to jump on Photoshop and create these custom filters per photos or albums. So I’ve actually been developing them for like four or five years now. I don’t have anything saved, it’s all different every time.

I love your band photos, but what do you look for in other subjects, specifically in your latest project The Wild Ones?
Well, every time I was traveling with bands and then covering festivals, I was coming up with hundreds and hundreds of photos, but I would go back and find that they just looked like everything else; people would pose, or things were staged. People thought I was capturing the festival, but I really wasn’t capturing it the way I really saw it, raw organic moments. I was getting really frustrated and decided to step back and photograph the subtle wild ones. I also recently read a book called The Power of Now. It’s pretty life changing to be honest. It’s just like, “Be present. Stop thinking and just be.” I decided I wanted to bring that into my photos as well. I will go around festivals and dedicate certain lighting hours to trying to find people who are going against the norm. But I do pre-plan shots in my head and think, “If I can capture a moment like this, I will be so stoked.” I’ve got a list full.

Can you tell me what one of them is?
Well, I’m hoping there are tents everywhere at Firefly--the festival that I'm going to with The Griswolds this weekend. It’s nighttime, the stars are out. So, all of the tents are really subtle, but there’s one in the center that’s kind of lit up, and then there’s just a couple making out and I’ve got the silhouette through the tent, with the others in the background, and then, they’re under the stars.

When people find you taking photos of them how do they react?
Most of the time they’re passed out or really high on drugs. There was this one guy, it was one of the first shots I took for The Wild Ones. He was really good looking, I was just like “Hey, um you look really good smoking that cigarette, can I take a photo of you?” He had really big blue eyes. I just said, “Okay look at me and smoke.” And then I took his photo and ran away.

What advice would you give to emerging photographers?
I heard this quote once, but I’m not sure where it’s from. It says “Observe everything around you as if you’ve never seen it before,” and it’s so true. I also had this crazy dream and woke up thinking this statement over and over: “It’s not about if they could pour kerosene over a vehicle and light it up. It’s about the ones who rebelled against the norm and are wild at heart.”

Want to know if Sarah ever gets that tent-under-the-stars shot? Us, too. That’s why we’re following The Wild Ones project here and stalking her adventures on Instagram.

photo by sarah bahbahThe Wild Ones - 7

Cara Delevingne, Ashley Benson, and Agyness Deyn also star

Elisabeth Moss is trying to keep it together as punk rock artist Becky Something in the trailer for forthcoming movie Her Smell. She's surrounded by iconic faces who make up her band Something She, Gayle Rankin as Ali van der Wolff and Agyness Deyn as Marielle Hell, as she grapples with the fact that her musical prowess just doesn't draw as big a crowd as it used to.

In addition to the wavering fame, Becky is "grappling with motherhood, exhausted bandmates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom," according to a press release. "When Becky's chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success." And what's clear from the trailer, Moss is absolutely meant for this role, transforming into the punk on the brink of collapse.

Rounding out the cast are Ashley Benson, Cara Delevingne, and Dan Stevens. Watch the official trailer, below. Her Smell hits theaters on April 12 in New York and 14 in L.A., with "national expansion to follow."

Her Smell | OFFICIAL TRAILER HD www.youtube.com

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Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

In an acceptance speech at the BRIT Awards

As The 1975 accepted the BRIT Award for Best British group, outspoken frontman Matty Healy shared the words of journalist Laura Snapes as a way of calling out misogyny that remains ever-present in the music industry. Healy lifted a powerful quote from Snapes' coverage of allegations against Ryan Adams for The Guardian: "Male misogynist acts are examined for nuance and defended as traits of 'difficult' artists, [while] women and those who call them out are treated as hysterics who don't understand art."

Snapes reacted almost immediately on Twitter, saying she was "gobsmacked, and honoured that he'd use his platform to make this statement." Snapes had originally written the line for an interview she published with Sun Kil Moon singer Mark Kozelek back in 2015, in response to Kozelek publicly calling her a "bitch" who "totally wants to have my babies" because she requested to speak in person rather than via e-mail, which she brought up in the more recent piece on Adams. Kozelek's vile response, and the misogyny that allowed it to play out without real consequences, it could be argued, could have easily played out in the same way in 2019, which makes her reiteration of the line, and Healy's quoting it on such a large platform, all the more important.

It should be noted that back in December, Healy caught a bit of heat himself on Twitter for an interview with The Fader in which he insinuated that misogyny was an issue exclusive to hip-hop, and that rock 'n' roll had freed itself of it. He clarified at length on Twitter and apologized, saying, "I kinda forget that I'm not very educated on feminism and misogyny and I cant just 'figure stuff out' in public and end up trivializing the complexities of such enormous, experienced issues."